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Mother of two MH17 victims regrets not heeding son's fears

By Erin McLaughlin, Antonia Mortensen and Bryony Jones, CNN
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Samira Calehr's sons Miguel, 10, and Shaka, 19, were killed in MH17 crash
  • Calehr's middle son Mika was booked on a later flight because the plane was full
  • She says Miguel voiced fears the plane would crash while waiting at airport
  • Mother: "I said don't be silly, everything's going to be OK... I didn't listen to him"

Amsterdam, Netherlands (CNN) -- The mother of two brothers killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 told CNN she regrets not taking her youngest son's fears about the flight more seriously.

Ten-year-old Miguel Calehr died alongside his older brother Shaka, 19, when the Malaysia Airlines jet came down in Ukraine, close to the border with Russia, last Thursday.

The pair were on their way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a fun-filled holiday with their grandmother.

Their middle brother, Mika, 16, was supposed to be on the flight too, but it was fully booked, and he had to take a seat on a later plane.

The passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came from around the world and held a wide range of hopes and dreams. While the identities of the 298 people aboard have not been release by the airline, CNN has been able to confirm some of them via family, friends and social media. The passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came from around the world and held a wide range of hopes and dreams. While the identities of the 298 people aboard have not been release by the airline, CNN has been able to confirm some of them via family, friends and social media.
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Photos: Malaysia Flight 17 victims remembered Photos: Malaysia Flight 17 victims remembered
Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. Families of crew members aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 gather for a vigil Tuesday, July 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All 298 people aboard the passenger plane died when it was shot down Thursday, July 17, in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.
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Just hours before the flight was to depart for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Miguel told his mother he was nervous.

"After entering the passport [line], he came back to me and said 'Mama, I love you. I'm happy to see Oma [Grandma], but I'm going to miss you,'" Samira Calehr told CNN.

Then, she said, he asked her, "'What happens when the plane will crash?'

"I said, 'Come on, don't be silly, you've been traveling already so many times. Everything's going to be OK.'"

It was the sort of pre-flight fear many travelers will be familiar with, brushed off by a casual remark parents all over the world are used to making.

But single mom Calehr says she now wishes she'd paid more attention to his worries: "If I could just turn back time. I didn't listen to him. I don't know, I have no words to say..."

Still stunned by the tragedy which has overtaken her family, she pleads: "Why didn't they take my life? They are still young, they still have a future. Why? Why the children? Why not me?"

Samira's brother Harun told CNN his nephew Mika was being "very brave" -- like his mother and grandmother.

"It comes in waves," he explained. "One minute they're completely distraught and inconsolable, and the other minute they're smiling and reminiscing and talking about the fun things that the boys did: the good things, the fun times, the memories."

Harun said the boys were good students. "They worked hard, they were honest, they were fun to be around." Above all, he said, "they were such a blessing to my sister. ... They were a joy to her, and the reason for her being."

The boys' grandmother, Yasmine Calehr, said the family was heartbroken: "Everybody is crying, everybody is losing something that belonged to them, but we feel like we have lost ourselves as well."

Harun said they were now focused on ensuring the boys' remains are repatriated to the Netherlands, where they can be given a proper farewell.

"As devastating as this process has been, we would like to have a grave, something to put into a grave... some remains or possibly the bodies intact to come home," he said.

Mika, now the only surviving son, told CNN he has lost his "best friends" but insists the bond he has with Miguel and Shaka will go on beyond the grave.

"It feels like they're already one with me now," he said. "They're my best friends, they're my brothers, and I feel like they're going to watch over me forever."

READ MORE: Unanswered questions about Flight MH17
READ MORE: Grieve with love, not revenge, says Lockerbie father
READ MORE: 'Forgive us' plead MH17 tributes in Moscow

CNN's Erin McLaughlin reported from Amsterdam and Byrony Jones wrote from London. CNN's Don Lemon contributed to this report.

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